No one on earth can place you in ministry. You may be given a diploma by a seminary, ordained by a bishop or commissioned by a denomination; but the apostle Paul reveals the only source of any true call to ministry: “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry” (1 Timothy 1:12, NKJV).
What does Paul mean here when he says Jesus enabled him and counted him faithful? Think back to the apostle’s conversion. Three days after that event, Christ placed Paul in the ministry, specifically a ministry of suffering. This is the very ministry Paul refers to when he says, “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart” (2 Corinthians 4:1).
Paul is telling us Jesus gave him a promise for this ministry. Christ pledged to remain faithful to him and strengthen him through all of his trials. A transfiguration is taking place in all of our lives. The truth is that we become like the things that occupy our minds. Our character is being influenced and impacted by whatever has hold of our hearts.
I thank God for everyone who feeds his mind and soul with spiritual things. Such servants have fixed their eyes on what is pure and holy. They keep their gaze fixed on Christ, spending quality time worshipping him and building themselves up in faith. The Holy Spirit is at work in these saints, continually changing their character in the image of Christ’s. These believers will be ready for the hard, explosive sufferings to come. Slothful, lazy, prayerless believers will suffer heart failure or breakdowns. They’ll be crushed by their fears because they don’t have the Holy Spirit at work in them, transfiguring them. When the hard times come, they simply won’t make it.
Here is Paul’s final word on the matter: “We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings…. as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things” (2 Corinthians 6:3–5, 10). By shining with the hope of Christ in the midst of our sufferings, we display true riches to the world.